SOU Board of Trustees Approves Potential Tuition Rates for 2019-20
May 17, 2019
Members of the SOU community:
The SOU Board of Trustees agreed today with my recommendation for a tuition rate increase for the 2019-20 academic year that will be tied directly to the level at which higher education is eventually funded by the Oregon Legislature. The tuition rate for resident undergraduates is expected to rise between $15 and $23 per credit hour, depending on the Legislature’s funding decision.
The tuition increase will be accompanied by our continued efforts to reduce costs across campus. Our team-first attitude has enabled us to save more than $1 million over the past year through voluntary budget-trimming.
Today’s decisions are difficult but necessary steps to maintain the academic integrity of our university. They are the result of a collaborative, inclusive effort by students, faculty, staff and other members of the campus community that began early this year and will continue until the Legislature’s final budget decisions are made this summer.
Next year’s tuition rates are based on the unanimous recommendations of SOU’s Tuition Advisory Council, which has met more than a dozen times and is made up of students, faculty and administrators. I suggested approving a full range of tuition rates tied to various legislative funding scenarios, and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved that approach following careful consideration.
No option available to us would have been painless. These are the best choices for our students and the university, as lawmakers continue to shift the burden of higher education from the state to our students and their families. Today’s actions maintain the excellence of our academic and support services and enable us to continue meeting the needs of current and future learners in our region.
SOU and the state’s six other public universities face these difficult decisions due to a combination of inadequate state funding and rising costs for retirement benefits, medical coverage and wages – which are managed primarily at the state level. As a result, each of Oregon’s universities must choose between damaging cost reductions and the viability of their academic and student support programs.
The increase in resident undergraduate tuition is expected to be in the range of 8.5 to 13.5 percent for next year, depending on the Legislature’s funding decision. The annual cost increase, based on 15 credit hours per term, will be between $675 and $1,035. Tuition for nonresident undergraduates will increase by 5 percent – $26 per credit hour or $1,170 per year.
We are committed to keeping higher education within the reach of all students and prospective students and will offset next year’s tuition increase with $500,000 in additional institutional aid for those who are least able to afford the additional cost.
While tuition rates are significantly affected by funding decisions at the state level, we have taken steps to address student expenses in other areas. It is worth noting that SOU’s overall cost of attendance – which includes tuition, mandatory student fees, and housing and meals – is projected to increase by a much more reasonable 4.39 to 5.21 percent for 2019-20. We are also continuing our efforts to reduce students’ textbook costs through various initiatives.
Because the state’s six other public universities are also planning for increases, tuition at SOU will remain among the lowest of the Oregon schools.
We have chosen to continue offering programs of the quality and variety our students want and need. We will preserve the staff resources that make such a difference to our students and add dimension to their college experiences. We will fulfill our promise to help students achieve successful lives of purpose.
President, Southern Oregon University